August 31st can't get here soon enough.
Most of us say that because we can't wait for OSU football.
But there is a huge part of me that is eager to see who will emerge, if anyone, from the mongolian cluster fuck that is the top half of the Big 12.
No returning "star" QB's. Major departures at other positions. For the most part, horribly weak non-conference opponents.
TCU will show us something on opening day against traditional SEC power LSU.
The Cowboys will give us a glimpse, we hope, against Mississippi State. As we saw last season when Texas beat up on Ole Miss, taking care of business against mid- & bottom-tier SEC teams doesn't necessarily indicate future results.
Texas takes a trip to BYU and has a rematch at home vs Ole Miss. OU visits Notre Dame. That's about it for any real tests outside of conference play.
There is a collection of conference games in September which should provide some preview.
- Sep 7...West Virginia @ OU
- Sep 14...TCU @ Texas Tech
- Sep 21...Kansas State @ Texas
- Sep 28...OSU @ West Virginia
October 5 will be the day of reckoning. A full slate of conference action. No more hiding.
We really don't care about Iowa State, Kansas, and Texas Tech. Hell, Jayhawk nation may storm the streets of Lawrence if they get through their non-conf slate undefeated (S. Dakota/@Rice/La. Tech).
But we do care about Baylor football.
Yes folks, that is a positive reference to Baylor and football in the same sentence. Art Briles has our attention, and will likely be basking in an undefeated record come their first conference game at home vs West Virginia on the first Saturday in October. They better be, as the only games standing in their way are Buffalo, @SMU, and ULM, and if they are going to be in the upper echelon of the Big 12, you don't lose to any of those teams.
Snyderball doesn't do any better, with N Dakota St, ULL, and UMass coming to Manhattan, but they travel to Texas and OSU in consecutive weeks to start conference play, so their cards will be on full display after 10/5, along with OU, Texas, OSU, & TCU. Baylor will have just given us a glimpse. Everyone's full schedule can be seen here
So why all the confusion? A mass exodus of offensive star power, and a lot of unknowns filling those holes.
So who likely comes out on top? Let's do this by the process of elimination...
10. Kansas is in a league unto itself;
9. West Virginia might be close behind;
7/8. Iowa State and Texas Tech could end up in the middle somewhere at best;
6. Texas has an outside shot, even though David Ash is still their QB and Mack Brown is suddenly looking a bit lost;
5. Kansas State needs a QB, but Snyder's magic will keep them more respectable than the Shoehorns;
This is where the break occurs for me between the rest of the pack and the contenders...
4. TCU needs to show they can handle the attrition, and Pachall needs to make good on his second chance, but Patterson will have them playing sound football and their defense should be solid. A full season recruiting for the Big 12 will need another year to make a difference;
3/2. OU needs a defensive line and more than just the Belldozer for an offensive scheme, but Bob Stoops >>>>> Mack Brown, so this marquee program should be near the top regardless;
2/3/1. Baylor will go as Bryce Petty and the defense go. Seastrunk is the best RB in the league, running behind a behemoth offensive line, but if Petty continues the Bear's recent QB trend, and if the defense repeats their form from late last season, they could arguably be the favorite to win the conference in what should be a down year for the league. And yes, I am sober as I write this...;
And then there's the Cowboys.
This is a VERY tenuous prediction, but an easy one sans any other concrete evidence.
1/2/3. OSU returns by far the most talent on both sides of the ball, and unless something strange happens, they will have one of the top QB's in the conference at the helm. Given that the Big 12 might be down a little bit on offense, that bodes well for a defense trying to establish a more respectable indentity, which I think will benefit more from the addition of Joe Bob Clement than the promotion of Glenn Spencer. Assuming that Stillwater has done something with the drinking water that obviously caused our offensive players to be especially susceptible to injury, this team will hit the ground with a decided advantage in depth at most positions, most importantly at QB, where the Big 12's leader in 2012 QB rating may not start. If the offense struggles in the opener, I wonder how patient the fans (& coaches) will be? I don't see the Cowboys finishing lower than 3rd, but the kicking game will likely have the most to say about that. Sharp often covered when Monken and the boys went stale, so as I stated in my previous post, unless the offense explodes or the defense suddenly dominates, this team can't afford for the kicking game to be a liability.
So there you have it. We can't wait for Aug 31, but Oct 5 may be a far more important date.
And be prepared, cuz this will probably come down to the last weekend or two.
Unless the Cowboys do us a HUGE favor.